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Your Favorite Internet Shopping Guide to Stylish Curvy Clothes: Size 12 +

Plus-Size Clothing Internet Shopping Guides
>> Plus-Size
Formal & Cocktail Dresses with Sleeves

 
Please be advised that all of the "Editor's Picks" featured in this section are hand-selected by Elegant Plus. Although every effort is made to keep featured products current, retailers can sell out of popular styles before the Editor has had an opportunity to update the page. Although Elegant Plus earns a small fee on all purchases, it is a completely free shopping resource for the consumer, and many times we are able to provide links that offer consumer discounts and free shipping offers upon landing on the partner retailer's site. All selections are available at time of posting and purchases can be made directly from the retailer on the associated shopping link. All of the shopping guides include designer selections which are noted with the designer's name in descriptions.
 


Last Update: December 4, 2017

RELATED
SHOPPING GUIDES

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Dresses @ Eloquii Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Tadashi Shoji Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Women's Fashion @ Zappos
Sequin Dress, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Tadashi Shoji, Embroidered Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Karen Kane, Bell Sleeve Dress, Size XL - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Sequin Dress
Size 14 - 24W

Tadashi Shoji
Embroidered Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Karen Kane
Bell Sleeve Velvet Dress

Size XL - 3X

Plus-size women often prefer upper arm coverage and are more comfortable in evening gowns and cocktail dresses with jackets or sleeves.  This is especially true of more mature women, but some younger women also fall into this category.  While ideally everyone should be comfortable with and unashamed of their body, a gala or special event is not always the best place to wrestle with those demons or public attitudes.

The popularity and lady-like qualities of Kate Middleton's style is also seeing a resurgence in sleeved styles in formalwear, generally.  Illusion sleeves and bodices in lace or filmy chiffon are among the most popular version.  Furthermore, cocktail dress hemlines are also dropping. The Christmas and New Year holiday party season sees the biggest increase in demand, but shoppers are looking for dresses with long sleeves all year. More conservative events such as military balls can also see sleeved styles in demand.
 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Dillard's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ Last Call Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Fashion @ Dress Barn
Gold Beaded Gown, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Sheath, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Also Available in Black

Red Sequin Poncho Dress, Size 14 - 22W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Gold Beaded Gown
Size 14 - 22W

Sequin Lace Dress
Size 14 - 22W

Sequin Poncho Dress
Size 14 - 22W

 

Some of the best designers and labels for formalwear that include sophisticated styles that feature sleeves include Terani,  Adrianna Papell, Tadashi Shoji, and Alex Evenings.  Less well known brands such as Komarov and Scala are also well worth checking out.  Many are available on-line, mainly through the major department stores.

Short and cap sleeves are also bra friendly options for warmer months.  Capelet styles can also make a solution for upper arm coverage. Many of these are good choices for mother-of-the-bride and other wedding guests, cruises, office parties, and events such as gallery openings.

Classic black is still the most popular color, but navy blue has become increasingly available along with white, pale tints, and deeper, richer colors such as deep red or teal green according to the trends of the season.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Saks Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothes @ Coldwater Creek Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Evening Dresses @ Lane Bryant Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Designer Dresses @ Neiman Marcus
Rene Ruiz, Gold Sequin Gown, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Sequin Jacket Dress, Size 8 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Bell Sleeve Lace Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Sachin & Babi, Sequin Cuff Bell Sleeve Gown, Size 0 - 16 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick

Rene Ruiz
Sequin
Off-the-Shoulder Gown
Size
2 - 18

 

Sequin Lace
Jacket Dress
Size 8 - 24W
Petite to 16P

Lace Bell Sleeve Shift
Size 14 - 28W

Sachin & Babi
Sequin Cuff
Bell Sleeve Gown
Size 0 - 16

 

Shopping Resources for FORMALWEAR WITH SLEEVES

Dillard's is the best resource for both sleeved dresses and evening jacket dresses. Among others, labels regularly included are Alex Evenings, Patra, Tadashi Shoji, Mac Duggal, Terani Couture, J Kara, and Jessica Howard in size 0 to 28W.  Lord & Taylor also favors more mature styles that often have sleeves for size 4 to 24W.

Nordstrom has one of the deepest collections of plus-size cocktail dresses available on the internet with classic to contemporary styles available with both jackets and sleeves, in addition to barer looks.  Labels such as Adrianna Papell,  Pisarro Nights, Soul Mates, and Komarov are popular sleeved styles here with the occasional offering from well known formalwear designers such as Tadashi Shoji.  The women's plus collection is available from size 14 to 24W, while smaller full figured women can find more options in the main collection in sizes up to 18. 

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Women's Clothing @ Catherine's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Dresses @ eShakti Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus-Size Women's Clothes @ Macy's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus:  Plus-Size Clothing @ Igigi
Wide Leg Black Jumpsuit, Size XL - 5X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Floral Border Dupioni Gown, Size 0 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Floral Brocade Gown, Size14 - 20W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Rose Lace Cocktail Dress, Size 14 - 36W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Wide Leg Jumpsuit
Size XL - 5X

Floral Border
Dupioni Dress
Size 0 - 36W
Avg - Petite - Tall

Floral Brocade Gown
Size 14 - 20W

 

Lace Cocktail Dress
Size 14 - 36W

 

 

Saks Fifth Avenue has upscale and luxury options in both cocktail dress and long gown styles from well-known designers such as Kay Unger and Tadashi Shoji. Neiman Marcus often carries sleeved cocktail dresses and formal gowns from names such as Marina Rinaldi, Carmen Marc Valvo, Eileen Fisher, and Lafayette 148.  Smaller plus women will also want to have a look out on their main rack for labels that offer sizes 14, 16, and 18. Names to look for there include Theia, Badgley Mischka, Rene Ruiz, Oscar de la Renta, Lela Rose, and St. John to name a few.

Macy's has a good special occasion and formalwear department available all year.  Styles are generally moderately priced and a mixture of more youthful and more mature looks in size 0 to 24W.  

Some of the best designer styles for fuller figures are available directly from Tadashi Shoji who designs with a vintage romantic aesthetic.  The misses line often extends as large as 18, while the complete women's line is available in size 14W to 24W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Forever 21 Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Nordstrom Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Torrid Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Dillard's
Velvet Ruffled Sleeve Off-the-Shoulder Dress, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Formal Lace Gown, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Silver Metallic Pleat Wrap Dress, Size XL - 6X  | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Stretch Velvet Sheath, Size 14 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available

Velvet Ruffled Sleeve
Off-the-Shoulder Dress

Size 1X - 3X

Formal Lace Gown
Size 14 - 24W

Silver Metallic Pleat
Wrap Dress
Size XL - 6X

Velvet Sheath
Size 14 - 24W

 

Direct from manufacturer website Light in the Box offers made-to-order formalwear styles in sizes to 26W at deeply reduced prices.  Search the Mother of the Bride category for the best selection.  In spite of the name, some have a more youthful appeal.  For those who enjoy cocktail dresses with a vintage flavor, eShakti offers customizable dresses for a small fee.  Sleeve length, hem length, and necklines can be altered to suit different body types and tastes for size 0 to 36W. 

Coldwater Creek has begun regularly carrying a selection evening and cocktail wear appealing to more mature destination travelers appropriate for cruises, weddings, and other special events for size 6 to 24W.

Catherine's and Ulla Popken both carry cocktail dress styles with sleeves in styles appealing to older women in sizes to 34W.  For more contemporary style, try the maxi dress options at Kiyonna in size 10 to 32W, and the print gown from Igigi in size 14 to 36W.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Teri Jon Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Draper's & Damon's Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Old Pueblo Traders Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Fashion @ Eloquii
Teri Jon, Sequin Feather Trim Gown, Size 2 - 20 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Lace Jacket Gown, Size 8 - 24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Wrap Dress, Size 8 - 26W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Velvet Wrap Dress, Size 14 - 28W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Teri Jon
Sequin
Feather Trim Gown
Size 4 - 20
 
Lace Jacket Gown
Size 8 - 24W
 

Wrap Dress
Size
8 - 26W 

Velvet Wrap Dress
Size 14 - 28W

 

Finishing Touches

Remember both the proper undergarments and hosiery are part of what make formal style dresses shine. 

Plus-size shapewear is available to sizes 10X from select lingerie specialists such as Her Room, while Spanx is some of the most popular hosiery with built in shaping features and is regularly available from Lane Bryant on-line.

Dress shoes can be either pumps or sandals, with designer styles popular with those looking to attend gala events.

 

Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Nordstrom Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Kiyonna Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Neiman Marcus Let's Shop! Elegant Plus: Plus Size Dresses @ Tahari
Jewel Cuff Black Jumpsuit, Size 14-24W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Velvet Wrap Dress, Size 10 - 32W | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick Rachel Pally, Ruffled Jersey Gown, Size 1X - 3X | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
More Colors Available
Tahari, Floral Embroidered Bell Sleeve Dress, Size 2 - 18 | ElegantPlus.com Editor's Pick
Jewel Cuff
Jumpsuit
Size 14 - 24W
 
Velvet Wrap Dress
Size 1
0 - 32W
 

Rachel Pally
Ruffled Jersey Gown
Size 1X - 3X

Tahari
Floral Bell Sleeve Dress
Size
2 - 18

 

 

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Plus-size clothing featured is hand selected by the Elegant Plus Fashion Editor from our extensive network of plus-fashion business partnerships. Although Elegant Plus earns a small fee on all purchases, it is a completely free shopping resource for the consumer, and many times we are able to provide links that offer consumer discounts and free shipping offers upon landing on the partner retailer's site.